Are the Fields of Informal Science Education and Science Communication Adjacent or Connected? A Bibliometric Study of Research Journals from 2012 to 2016
Informal Science Education (ISE) and Science Communication (SciComm) are two overlapping but distinct fields that support engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in a variety of settings. Though fluid boundaries and fuzzy definitions make a clear distinction between ISE and SciComm difficult, the two fields nevertheless exhibit strong differences in core values and goals, based in part on different histories, commitments, and trajectories.
The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) conducted two kinds of baseline studies that mapped the relations between ISE and SciComm: a social network analysis of current ISE and SciComm professionals and a bibliometric study that analyzed the authors, titles, and abstracts of central, archival research journals in the fields of SciComm and ISE from 2012 to 2016.
For SciComm, we sampled three journals that make science communication part of their identity: Science Communication, Journal of Science Communication, and Public Understanding of Science. As there is no comparable set of archival journals specifically for ISE, we sampled from a group of science education journals that often publish ISE-related scholarship: Science Education, Journal of Research on Science Teaching, and International Journal of Science Education.